Hira Kanna Remake-Part 2

In Part 1 I recounted my trying weekend in the shop while remaking the dai block to turn this blade into a functioning kanna.  So now that I solved  the mystery of the skewed blade and fixed the chip in the mouth and sole, it was time to see if I could salvage this build.

After work this evening I went straight to the shop.  First I cut the dai block to final length and planed the ends square.  Then a took a few shavings on the sides and top to clean up those surfaces.  I pulled the pin back out so I could clean up the surfaces on the interior of opening and give a little more clearance for the chip breaker.  By the way, I used a 12d nail for the retaining pin.  Works great!  Then I reinstalled the pin and eased all of the appropriate edges.

With the blade and chip breaker set just short of coming out of the sole and began conditioning the sole.  This kanna will be a smoothing plane which means two contact points on the sole.  One at the very back (in Japanese planes the back is the end closest to you when in use) and one just in front of the blade.  So I drew a pencil line across those areas and began flattening the sole on my glass plate covered with sandpaper.  The idea is to flatten the sole on the sandpaper until the pencil lines are completely removed.  This should make those two areas coplanar.  Then I refined the conditioning with my scraper plane.  I want to lower the other areas by just a fraction of a millimeter.  Scrape a little and check with my plane ruler.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

OK, I’ll start with the fix for the skewed blade.  I removed material from the side of the right hand slot.  This allowed the blade to sit square to the sole, but opened up more of a gap on the left.  See the large gap on the left (large is relative).  It should only be about 1mm.  Doesn’t affect the function, just aggravating.


Anyway, lets see if it works.

First up is a piece of fir 2×4.


Not too bad.  How about a piece of big box mystery pine?


This seems promising. Now a piece of SYP.


Holly crap!  IT WORKS!  I’m pretty glad that I didn’t give up on this one.  It’s not perfect by any means and the sole needs a little more conditioning but it will be a fantastic user and a constant reminder of lessons learned.


Next up will be the truing plane.

Part 1 Greg Merritt

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Hira Kanna Remake-Part 1

Having botched the fitting of the blade to the dai on my first attempt at making a kanna with this new-used blade, I went into this weekend eager to start dai #2.  What I got ended up being one of my most frustrating wood working experiences.

I prepped the maple block.  The slab of maple that I pulled from the attic is grungy and rock hard, but I prepped the block without issue.


The layout went down without issue.  At least I thought it did.  I’ll come back around to that in a bit.


I began chopping out the waste, starting from the top side of the dai.  Did I mention that this maple is rock hard?  I resorted to a 1/2″ mortise chisel to beaver out the bulk of the waste.  Then switched over to my cabinet chisels to finish the cutting.  So far, so good.

Then I flipped the block over and chopped the mouth/throat opening.

Then I made the saw cuts to create the slots into which the blade will install.  That went well.

Time to fit the blade to the dai.  Here is where things began to turn.

As I began fitting the blade down into the dai it continually wanted to skew to one side.  This happened with the first dai as well and I thought it was my technique.  No matter how much I tried to correct it, the skew remained.  During the layout I simply measured the width of blade and chip breaker and laid out the corresponding openings symmetrically around a center line on the block.  Seemed reasonable when I was doing it, but as I was fitting the blade it continually wanted to skew farther on one side.  I should have stopped and reevaluated everything, but no, I doggedly continued, still trying to maintain the symmetry and eliminate the skew.  No matter what I did the skew remained all the while and my frustration began to turn to anger.  Here is where things turn even worse.

The final hammer blow to seat the blade fully caused the skewed corner of the blade to catch the edge of the mouth opening.  This, in turn, caused a portion of the mouth and sole to be chipped away.  Frustration and mild anger now gave way to full-blown rage.  In my younger days something would have went flying or would have been destroyed by the hammer in my hand.  However, middle-age has softened me enough that I simply sat everything down, turned out the light and walked away.

When working on something like this I become borderline obsessive-compulsive.  So I began re-reading articles and looking at photos trying to discover where I went wrong.  While looking at a photo of the blade set I noticed something that I had overlooked until now.  The damn blade is asymmetrical!  I’m such an idiot!  In the photo below you can see that the right side of the blade angles outward from cutting edge to top more than on the left side.  Its not a huge difference, but enough to cause the skewing issue.


So that answers the skewing problem.  It won’t be pretty but that is fixable.  Now what to do about that chip in the sole?  I came really close to scrapping this dai altogether until I remembered seeing this video.

That just might work.

So Sunday was “fix it” day.  I paired away material from the side of the slot to match the angle of the side of blade.  That took care of 99% of the skew.  The remaining skew was due to my trying to compensate for it otherwise.  Then I marked out and removed a chunk of the sole and fitted a new block of maple into the opening.

So now I have a reasonably square, and well-supported blade…


…and a tight mouth opening.


I may just be able to salvage this thing after all…maybe.  At the very least I learned another lesson or two.

Greg Merritt

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If I Can’t do it Right…

…I can at least learn from my mistakes.
Well crap!  Here I was, all pleased with my freshly minted kanna.  Wrote a post all about it.  Showed it off…blah,blah, blah. Everything was right with my world, but then… Continue reading

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Birthing a Hira-Kanna(common plane)

This blog has been quiet as of late, which usually indicates that not much is happening in my wood shop.  In this instance though, that is not the case.  I’ve been in the shop almost everyday trying to get my head around the Japanese kanna.  I’ve made a few dai (plane bodies), tried different bedding angles and made several mounds of shavings.  I’ve also had a couple of email conversations with folks well-versed in the kanna.  These conversations have led me to abandon my original idea of using the kanna without the chip breaker. Continue reading

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Kanna Blade Identification-Can you Help?

I’m asking for your help.  I was recently asked about the blade in one of my kanna.  That question made me realize that I know nothing about the Japanese plane blades that I own.  I’m hoping that some of you may be able to give me some insight as to the who, what, when and where of these blades. Continue reading

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Chisel Setup

My Japanese chisels are middle of the road, decent user-grade chisels.  As such, they are factory produced and marketed for the western buyer.  They are a laminated construction and the steel is good, but the fit and finish is a little on the rough side. Continue reading

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The best way I know to learn a new skill is through repetition, lots of repetition.  My ultimate goal is to transition over to using the Japanese plane (kanna) exclusively in my woodworking.  However there are several challenges that must be met in order for this to happen. Continue reading

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